entrepreneurship, Events, Lessons Learned, News

From Nothing to Something at Betahaus Cologne’s Startup Supper

Recently I was invited to speak and share some of my experiences as an entrepreneur at Betahaus Cologne‘s Startup Supper event.

Startup Supper is an informal evening dinner event where invited startup entrepreneurs share selected stories from their experience and answer questions from the audience.

The subject of my little chat was “going from nothing to something”, about how I got from just an idea to building an actual team and shipping an actual product beta with our startup Gauss – The People Magnet.

Here’s the main points:

  • Search XING, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and events for talent, potential co-founders, line up dates
  • Attend as many tech and startup events as possible in your city
  • Create your own events to attract your people if the existing ones aren’t
  • Have coffee dates with as many potential co-founders as possible
  • Avoid people who overlap your skill set too much
  • Avoid people who are all talk and no do
  • Avoid people who don’t align with your values
  • Try to find small projects to work together on before getting to third base
  • Talk to everybody about everything (screw NDAs)
  • Only promise what you can deliver, no ponies and double rainbows (instead: pain, suffering, hard work and real possible risk of personal bankruptcy)
  • Have a name, a logo and some impressive mockups of what you want to build made before you can expect any traction with potential co-founders and other helpers (paint more salient pictures in the real world to accompany your nebulous dream speak before expecting other people to grasp what you’re talking about, let alone join in on your vision and team up
  • Communicate your needs to everyone, everywhere (this is not the time to be secretive)
  • Offer equal equity split for any potential co-founder(s), save discussions
  • Get into a startup competition event, use it as leverage to get accepted to the next, make sure to shoot it on video, bring your own crew to shoot it or have someone in the audience do it for you with their phone or yours
  • Publish everywhere, nag people, get our of your comfort zone
  • Dont’t give up, keep on going (if you are feeling despaired, you’re only just beginning – keep going)

In summary, it took about six months of searching and dating to attract and recruit the right people. From there on it took a month to build a prototype (MVP) and another four months to reach a public beta stage and another three months before we launched on the Apple AppStore.

Images by Thomas Riedel (@boydroid)

If you’re interested in me speaking at your event, why don’t you shoot me a mail and let’s talk.

Mobile, News

OneSec – An experiment in crowd funding

As some of you already know, I’m collaborating with a friend of mine on this little fun crowd funding summer project thing called OneSec.

So get out your credit cards and pledge now!

OneSec is an iPhone app that makes shooting & sharing good videos fun and easy by changing the format to one second shots. Less is more!

Check out our campaign on IndieGoGo for the full story.

We thought it would be an interesting experiment to test if crowd funding is a valid option to fund awesome high-quality iPhone apps. We’re iterating our campaign every day and sharing insights what’s working and what’s not. Stay tuned for more insights.

So head over to the campaign and pledge, pledge, pledge as much as you can spare and if you can’t or won’t pay us be sure click all the like and share buttons on the campaign page. That helps too!

Oh, and not to worry about Gauss. That one is still moving ahead at full speed. I’m just doing this as a fun little summer experiment as others have their well-deserved summer break.


OneSec screenshot 2

Education, entrepreneurship, Lessons Learned, News

Lessons Learned – steps2startup at University of Cologne

I was recently invited to speak about my lessons learned as a startup entrepreneur at the steps2startup program at the University of Cologne.

steps2startup is a student initiative at the University of Cologne to help young people interested in startups and entrepreneurship build their network and exchange experiences and ideas with likeminded people.

It was inspiring to see about 50+ student in attendance at a very busy exam time.

Here are the slides I used:

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entrepreneurship, Events, News, pitching, startup

Startup Weekend Amsterdam


I recently attended Startup Weekend Amsterdam because:

1.) It’s just a whole lot of damned good fun!
2.) SWAMS has got to be one of best Startup Weekends anywhere
3.) I recently founded Startup Weekend Cologne so I had to attend a Startup Weekend as a requirement – Stay tuned for more!

James Digby (@digbyj) kicking it all off:

James Digby kicking off Startup Weekend Amsterdam #swams

Then the awesome legendary Steve Blank (@sgblank) made a cameo appearance and I just had to ask him if he invests in European startups – On which he retorted I should first take some of his classes. Hah, so we meet again, Steve! I think I’ll have to take you up on that one! :)

UPDATE: I did take Steve up on that one. :)

The AWESOMENESS! Steve Blank surprise keynote at Startup Weekend Amsterdam! Hi again @sgblank :) #swams

So exiting that we’re all standing on our chairs!

And now we're so excited we're standing on our chairs! #swams

The amazing SWAMS location, Pakhuis De Zwyger:


Easygiving.co winning the grand prize for thinking big; A non-profit charity where 100% of your donations go to the cause:

Check out http://easygiving.co non-profit for 100% of your charity going to the cause! #swams


And of course I couldn’t help pitching myself and accidentally ended up winning the Startup Weekend Spirit award for our team http://lunchroulette.co for completely p0wning the judges and capturing the audience but also by telling the story of the learning made, how we invalidated the business model of some other guy’s idea I had originally joined, how the team then collapsed and the idea owner going home, leaving us basically a couple of hours on the last day to come up with this.

@blacktar: Never lunch alone again! Meet new people over chow: http://t.co/mOjUtEU0 Sign up and we'll match you with a lunch date near you! #swAMS

W00t! Good times!

I’m incredibly excited about bringing Startup Weekend to Cologne!

Here are the slides I used:

UPDATE 2013:

Almost exactly one year after i presented Lunch Roulette at Startup Weekend Amsterdam, I was visiting the new Facebook HQ in Menlo Park and found out that they had implemented some of the ideas for their staff internally.

Hah! Even the logo looked uncannily familiar! I’ll take that as validation, thank you.

See for yourself:

Internal Facebook memo on the wall at the HQ in Menlo Park,  June 2013.

Internal Facebook memo on the wall at the HQ in Menlo Park, June 2013.